Background: evidence about possibilities to help older persons to withdraw the long-term use of benzodiazepines (BZD) is scarce. Effective and practicable methods are needed.
Objective: the study aimed to assess the persistence of one-time counselling by a geriatrician to reduce psychotropic drugs, especially BZD and related drugs (RD).
Design: a prospective randomised controlled trial with a 12-month follow-up was conducted.
Subjects: five hundred ninety-one community-dwelling people aged 65 or older participated in the study.
Methods: instructions to withdraw, reduce or change psychotropic drugs were given to the intervention group. A 1-h lecture about these drugs and their adverse effects was given later on. No changes in the drug therapy were suggested for the controls.
Results: the number of regular users of BZD and RD decreased by 35% (12/34) (odds ratios (OR) = 0.61, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.44-0.86) in the intervention group while it increased by 4% (2/46) (OR = 1.05, 95% CI 0.81-1.36) in the controls (P = 0.012). No significant changes in the users of other types of psychotropics were found.
Conclusion: one-time counselling of psychotropics and other fall-risk-increasing drugs by a geriatrician followed with a 1-h lecture about adverse effects of these drugs had positive effects in decreasing the number of regular users of BZD and RD, and these effects persisted for the total 12-month intervention period.